Taliban leadership will not commit to allowing women to play sports

From swimming to soccer, operating to horse driving, Afghanistan’s new sports activities chief stated Tuesday that the Taliban will enable 400 sports activities — however declined to verify if ladies can play a single one.

“Please don’t ask extra questions on ladies,” Bashir Ahmad Rustamzai instructed AFP, from an armchair the place Afghanistan’s Olympic Committee president had sat till he fled the nation final month.

Rustamzai, a heavily-built former kung fu and wrestling champion with a bushy black and white beard, was appointed by the hardline Islamist group to be Afghanistan’s director basic for sports activities and bodily training.

When he was the wrestling federation chief when the Taliban was final in energy, Rustamzai labored with the Western-backed authorities earlier than a falling out due to “their widespread corruption,” he stated.

Wearing a black turban typical of the Taliban, Rustamzai repeatedly ducked questions on the difficulty of girls’s sports activities.

Throughout the extremists’ brutal and oppressive regime from 1996 to 2001, ladies had been fully banned from enjoying any sport whereas males’s sports activities had been tightly managed. Ladies had been additionally largely banned from training and work.

Sports activities stadiums had been repeatedly used for public executions.

“We won’t ban any sport, until it doesn’t adjust to sharia legislation … there are 400 varieties of sports activities allowed,” Rustamzai stated.

Shortly after, he watched an indication by younger Afghan males, some zooming round on curler blades, and waving the white Taliban flag.

Rustamzai stated abiding by Islamic legislation meant little change in apply in comparison with different nations.

“It doesn’t change a lot,” he stated, noting it will require, for instance, soccer gamers or Muay Thai boxers to put on “shorts just a little longer, which fall under the knee.”

Pushed on ladies’s participation, he stated he was nonetheless awaiting decrees from the highest Taliban management.

“We are able to think about the identical factor as in universities: permitting ladies to play sports activities, however individually from males,” one in every of his advisors stated.

However Rustamzai wouldn’t verify that immediately.

New guidelines on universities will enable ladies to proceed finding out so long as they’re strictly segregated from males and cling to a gown code of an abaya gown and niqab face veil. The curriculum may even be managed.

For now, the indications look bleak for ladies hoping to take part in sports activities.

Final week, the deputy head of the Taliban’s cultural fee, Ahmadullah Wasiq, stated that it was “not essential” for ladies to play sport.

“In cricket, they could face a state of affairs the place their face and physique won’t be coated,” Wasiq instructed Australian broadcaster SBS. “Islam doesn’t enable ladies to be seen like this.”

However the Taliban is already beneath strain, particularly with reference to cricket, the place worldwide rules state nations should even have an lively ladies’s staff to participate in check matches.

Afghanistan Cricket Board (ACB) chairman Azizullah Fazli instructed SBS Radio Pashto he was nonetheless hopeful ladies will have the ability to play.

“Very quickly, we will provide you with excellent news on how we’ll proceed,” he stated.

However Rustamzai distanced himself from the way forward for ladies’s sports activities.

“The opinions of our elders (senior Taliban) are vital,” he stated. “In the event that they ask us to authorise ladies, we’ll — in any other case, we won’t. We await their announcement.”

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